In case you didn’t believe it before last week’s presidential election, now you know you really can do anything you want with your life. It may have just been a hopeful seed someone once planted in your head, but you’ve seen it with your very own eyes and there’s no stopping you now.
Not so fast, you say?
What about the fact that my boss is an inept fool who gets in the way of my gaining the experience I need? What about the fact that no one responds to my resume to even get an interview? What about the fact that I’m over 50?
Well, what about the fact that you’re letting other people decide how your career goes?
I don’t blame you for feeling bitter. Much is broken in the workplace. Bad bosses overpopulate offices. So many leaders have let us down, indulging in fraud, creative accounting and bad management decisions.
And yes, over the years you’ve worked hard, been asked to do more with less and yet received less in return. You may have lost your job. And it’s rare that job hunters even get a thanks-but-no-thanks letter these days.
In the short term, no one can reverse the crumbling of trust in the workplace and job-hunting process. But you can snap out of a self-defeating cycle that purges hope from your future and the great things you thought you could do with your life.
You owe it to yourself. How you feel about your work and career affects everything – not only your future, but children you might have and attitudes they develop as they observe and mimic you; the way you operate in the world and treat everyone who crosses your path; and someday, how you’ll look back at your life.
One way to stop that self-defeating loop: Decide to start where things are, not where you think they should be.
Example: People rarely act the way you want them to act. You may think they should do what they say they’re going to do, respond to e-mails and voicemails and know how to be good bosses. But people have their own good reasons for doing what they do (don’t you?). So are you going to let the fact that they aren’t acting the way you want stop you from doing what you dare with your career?
People ask me a lot: “Why do they get to act the way they do? Why do I have to be the one to change?” Good point, but not really relevant. Other peoples’ behavior may not be “right.”
But you’re the one who’s not getting what you want. So you’re the one who will be doing the changing. That might mean curtailing your daily routine of sending your resume to online ads and instead sitting down to create a real job-hunting strategy that gets you in front of people. It could mean seeking out someone in your company who supports you instead of complaining about your lame boss who couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag.
Plenty of people before you faced enormous roadblocks to get where they wanted – including the man who will be the next president. They could have been angry and deflated in spirit about the odds stacked against them – and perhaps were at times.
But to feel powerful about your career, you have to feel powerful about yourself. That begins with the belief that, well, to adapt a familiar phrase from an unlikely person to hold the most powerful job in the country: “Yes, I can.”
Andrea Kay is the author of “Work’s a Bitch and Then You Make It Work: 6 Steps to Go From Pissed Off to Powerful.” Send questions to her at 2692 Madison Rd., #133, Cincinnati, OH 45208; www.andreakay.com or www.lifesabitchchangecareers.com. She can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.